You'll believe a (wonder) woman can fly. That's the approach taken by Wonder Woman franchise filmmaker Patty Jenkins when helming the superheroine's first feature film, also the first female-fronted superhero movie in the modern era, which looked to another first for inspiration: Richard Donner's 1978 Superman. The premiere big-budget superhero tentpole turned a then 7-year-old Jenkins into a lifelong fan of the Man of Steel, played at the time by Christopher Reeve, making an imprint on her that would impact the DC Extended Universe nearly 40 years later with 2017's Wonder Woman.
"[Superman] rocked my world. Like it rocked my world. I cried. I sobbed. I'll never forget every single moment," Jenkins told Donner on a Director's Guild podcast in 2017. "I was Superman. And I watched that movie and the little boy picked up the car and every step of tafterwardI fell in love with. I'll never forget the way it made me feel afterwards. I believed that I could be Superman. I wanted to be Superman."
Donner's classic Superman would impact Jenkins again on Wonder Woman 1984, set against the backdrop of the excessive 1980s with a leading heroine who is unabashedly old-school and a promoter of Truth, Justice — and the Amazon way.
As Jenkins put it in an interview with the Los Angeles Times: "What I find interesting about [Wonder Woman] is that she and Superman are the OG, true north, very simple superheroes. They are people with superpowers [who are] here to save the day."
Other superheroes "had some slant or angle that separated them," Jenkins added, "and so I think that was something that was strangely missing with so many superhero movies. None of them were very simple in that way. I loved getting to do that with her."
WW84 looks to be the last standalone Wonder Woman movie set in the past: both Jenkins and star Gal Gadot agree it's time to bring Diana Prince back into a contemporary setting in Wonder Woman 3. Just before Warner Bros. announced Jenkins and Gadot would reteam to conclude their long-planned theatrical trilogy, the filmmaker revealed there's "so much potential" for a Superman movie — and it's one Jenkins wishes to direct.
As Gadot's Diana Prince prepares to lasso up her third solo film in the DC Extended Universe — her fifth appearance overall, after roles in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League — Superman lingers in limbo. Henry Cavill's Kryptonian superhero launched the DCEU in the Zack Snyder-directed Man of Steel in 2013 before returning in Batman v Superman and Justice League, and now the character's future is very much up in the air: he last made a cameo appearance in David F. Sandberg's Shazam!, where a body double dons the cape and suit of a Superman who appears only from the neck down.
In September 2018, reports claimed Cavill had exited his role in the DCEU — making it a world without a Superman. Cavill himself would dispel those rumors, telling Variety he would "absolutely love to play the character again." He would step back into the role for additional photography on Zack Snyder's Justice League, the long-fabled Snyder Cut that will fulfill the visionary director's original plans for the superhero ensemble (complete with a black-suited Superman).
This past May, it was reported Superman would return with Cavill in the role — sometime, somewhere. DC Films was said to be working out where the character best fits in the DCEU and that a long-awaited Man of Steel 2 is not part of the franchise's blueprints.
Given Jenkins' admiration for the character and the present-day setting for Wonder Woman 3, there's a chance Cavill's Superman returns opposite Gadot's Themysciran superhero. When asked about teaming Wonder Woman with another DC Comics hero in the threequel, Jenkins said it would have to be "intrinsic to the story."
"I think that there are people out the doing great mash-up movies. That's not my cup of tea," Jenkins said in a recent interview. "I love a very powerful singular story. You never know if something will come along that will make us feel like that would be intrinsic to the story, but I would never do it for any other reason."
Gadot's Wonder Woman and Cavill's Superman return in Zack Snyder's Justice League when it releases on HBO Max in March 2021.